Students from Tralee and Midleton were announced as the 2019 Supreme Apprentice Chefs at the recent south east final of the Apprentice Chef Schools Programme.
The final, sponsored by Flogas and Failte Ireland, took place on Thursday 16th May at Waterford IT. On the day, Ellie Sugrue (17) from Mercy Mounthawk School in Tralee, and Sophia O’Leary (16) from Midleton College, Cork, were announced as the 2019 Supreme Apprentice Chefs.
John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, was on hand to see the young finalists in action.
The educational initiative for secondary students is now in its seventh successful year and was established by Mark Doe, of justcooking.ie, and Mark Murphy, senior lecturer in Culinary Arts at IT Tralee.
This year, due to the level of interest from schools throughout Munster, it was divided into two finals, with Ellie Sugrue winning the south-west final on 9th May at IT Tralee and Sophia O’Leary triumphing in the south-east final at Waterford IT on 16th May.
The theme this year is Good Mood Food, to promote the importance of healthy eating in overall personal physical and mental wellbeing, as well as combating obesity and other health issues. Each finalist’s dish had to include ‘good mood foods’ based on seasonality, availability, locally produced and fresh unprocessed ingredients.
Ellie’s dish was a beetroot fondant with raspberry meringues, lime curd and a chocolate soil (chocolate crumb topping). Sophia’s dish was the first vegetarian plate to capture the top spot – Thai vegetable cakes, stir-fried pak choi and pickled cucumber.
Ellie and Sophia were each presented with a €1,000 voucher for their schools’ home economics department, in addition to a monogrammed chef’s uniform, work experience in a five star hotel and set of professional knives. Ellie and Sophia will also travel to Easy Food’s test kitchen, where they will cook their chosen dish, and their winning dishes will be published in Easy Food magazine.
Every finalist was presented with a chef’s uniform, certificate and specially monogrammed chopping board. Their schools will also receive a one-day cookery workshop from the Apprentice Chef culinary team.
Mark Murphy said: “To date, with the support of our sponsors Flogas and Failte Ireland, over 4,000 secondary school students have been involved in culinary mentoring workshops as part of the Apprentice Chef Schools Programme. It is part of a three year strategy to target 60 schools in Munster and expanding to secondary schools in Connacht in 2020 and a possible national event in 2021 or 2022.”
Mark Doe added: “The Apprentice Chef team is committed to running an educational programme that has viable learning outcomes for all who take part. The workshops and the mentoring process ensure that every student taking part benefits enormously from the experience. None of this would be possible without the support of our sponsors, Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland, and we’re looking forward to working with them in the years to come as we continue to grow and develop the Apprentice Chef Schools Pogramme.”